Roundabout construction could begin in ’08
July 27, 2007
Officials could invoke the powers of eminent domain to obtain property at Kimball Junction for a traffic circle on Landmark Drive, which would mark the first time the sitting Summit County Commission has condemned private property.
Attorneys for Summit County expect to negotiate with nine parties for rights-of-way they say are necessary to realign Landmark Drive. Appraisals of the land are expected to be in this fall.
"We put together an offer sheet based on the appraisal," said David Thomas, the county’s chief civil deputy attorney. "We give them a certain time deadline — usually it’s 30 days — to decide whether they want to accept the offer."
But the property owners could protest by claiming that condemning their land wouldn’t serve the public.
"Most of them for roads, say, ‘OK, we know it’s for a public purpose.’ And the only argument is about the money," Thomas told the Summit County Commission. "You’ll never know until you actually start going through the process and putting an offer on the table."
Officials hope the traffic roundabout will relieve gridlock at the busiest times when streets at Kimball Junction become the most congested in Summit County.
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But they are concerned about how to direct drivers during construction that could begin next year.
"While it’s real confusing and the world is changing over here, we need some nice-sized, larger signs," Summit County Commissioner Bob Richer said. "The objective here is to improve everything for everyone in the community, including the businesses. We do not want to put anybody out of business."
Still, proper signage is perhaps the biggest concern for members of the Kimball Junction Business Alliance as the road near Wal-Mart is realigned, Summit County engineer Kent Wilkerson explained.
"Way-finding is in process and we understand that will be very critical," Wilkerson said.
Letters must be at least six inches high for drivers to read signs, he said.
Meanwhile, completing the acquisition of rights-of-way is the first step, Wilkerson said.
The traffic circle near Wal-Mart will be almost twice as large as the roundabout farther west that serves Landmark Drive, Kilby Road and the Tanger Outlet Center, he said.
"If it isn’t bigger than that, don’t build it," Summit County Commissioner Ken Woolstenhulme said. "You’re going to pay more than it costs you to build the thing to build a new one."
But building a roundabout that is too big could encourage speeds that "get so great that they create hazardous accidents," Wilkerson said.
"It’s driver comfort as he approaches it versus the speeds of the circulating traffic," the engineer said, adding that the design is more than halfway complete.
Commissioners couldn’t decide what to call a new road slated to serve the Arby’s restaurant when road construction at Kimball Junction is done.
"Keep it simple and keep it so it’s different than other names around here," Richer said. "Like, Landmark Drive East would not make sense."
Richer asked whether the county’s timeline is too aggressive.
"Spring ’08 is coming up real fast," the commissioner said.